Translation: Festival of the Mirabelle plum and my Birthday
So, as it turns out, my internet was shut off on me last night because I had downloaded too many podcasts at one time, we have a 400mb per day allowance for downloading and apparently, downloading 60 45minute podcasts will use that up pretty quickly :-)
Ok, so, we had a pretty exciting weekend. Thursday night kicked off the Fête de la Mirabelle, but we completely forgot about it and ended up missing the crowning of the Mirabelle Queen and her 2 Princesses...boo! Friday however, we managed to make it downtown to see the the Costume Ball. We weren't quite sure what we would find when we got there, I think I heard that this was the first year they have done this so I'm pretty sure that no one really knew what to expect and therefore, no one really knew what to do. It ended up being about 30 people dressed up in outlandish costumes of no real theme and a bunch of other people standing around gawking at them; there were beer stands and essentially it was an excuse to get drunk and dance. They did have some pretty good music, in particular, there was one African drum group and a group of men sitting on the steps of the Cathedral with their instruments, singing what seemed to be French folk songs (everyone seemed to know the words except us, of course). The picture above was a shot of the Cathedral while we were listening to the folk group, it took many attempts and the use of Michael's steady shoulder to get it this clear.
Saturday was the Marché du Terrior, which means the Market of Terrior, terrior being an untranslatable word meaning the land, culture, people, food, etc of an area. In short, it was a market filled with lots of local stuff. The picture below shows what we bought at the market earlier in the day; up front is a mirabelle tart (individual sized), in the back is some local honey, which we had been trying to buy in the store with no luck, and to the left are 3 saussicon (duck, olive, and pork)...there was also a glass of Mirabelle beer that we bought on that trip. After some walking around the city and a trip to the train station to finally buy a bus pass, we actually went back up to the market where we bought some Mirabelle cake, bergamot candy (a citrus fruit that is the flavoring in Earl Grey tea), and a Pâté Lorraine, which is a meat-filled pastry from the Lorraine region where Metz is located. After the second round at the market we walked down to the other end of town to the huge park where the amphitheater was set up for that evening's concert where we found Moses and Chris (another friend from GTL) waiting to meet up with some friends from Metz. After a few hours, the we met up with the friends from Metz. They had a huge spread laid out on the ground of food, mirabelle tart, beer, and mirabelle liquor. The concert in itself wasn't very exciting, they had a couple of big names (for France), one of the performers was last years winner of French Idol and a guy I've heard of, Sliimy, also sang (with no pants on?!?). After the concert, we turned away from the amphitheatre toward the huge fireworks display they put on, and unlike Wellsboro or Pittsburgh, where the music is set to crappy 80's and 90's music (if you have the radio in your car on), they set the fireworks to classical music; the fireworks were pretty impressive.
Sunday was the final day of the Fête de la Mirabelle which was comprised of an artisans market, which wasn't very impressive, and a parade. The parade was pretty small, maybe 10 bands and 10 floats went by, but the floats were beautiful, covered all over in mums. The picture to the right is the American float complete with a mum-covered hamburger, mum-covered coke bottle, and if you look really hard, the statue of liberty in the background. The only funny thing about the parade, which goes along with the general acceptance of alcohol in Europe, was the fact that on a couple of the floats, one of the riders was serving wine or beer to the other riders, and even some of the people walking through the parade were drinking straight Mirabelle liquor from little glasses (which is strong stuff, let me tell you!). After the parade, we had our first Kebab, which is not the Shish Kebab that we make at home. According to wikipedia, the Kebab is the Turkish predecessor to the Greek Gyro. It is served in pita and uses highly spiced meat (we didn't ask what kind) that is cut off of a rotating vertical spit (just like a Gyro) and is served with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, a ranch-type dressing and some unknown spices that he shook. They shove the kebab down into a skinny bag then cover the top with french fries and more of the dressing. From what we've heard from other GTL students, it seems to be the go-to college food; it's filling, cheap, and REALLY GOOD! In the picture to the right, I'm just about to take a huge bite :-) After catching the bus home (and waiting quite awhile to digest) we cooked up a pre-packaged Stoeffers (spelled Stofllers here, I think) German meal. Essentially, it was a bag of saurkraut, 2 tiny smoked sausages, 2 knacks (hot dogs only better), 2 pieces of poitrine (pork belly meat, what eventually becomes bacon), and 3 little potatoes all vacuum packed and ready to throw into a skillet to heat up. The package said it served 2 people so we couldn't really figure out why they put 3 potatoes in, but Michael and I can share, and it was good, so whatever! Along with our German meal, we watched The Tin Drum which is a strange WWII era movie about a boy who never grows up.
Monday...again, not really sure what we did on Monday aside from attempt to get back into the swing of the week. We made fajitas again, since we had tortillas left over from our last Mexican meal, but this time I just made our normal fajita marinate; the only problem was the it is very hard to just find chili powder here, and if you do it's very expensive because it's considered "ethnic", so the closest I could get without spending 6 euros was cayenne powder. To make a long story short, I kept adding more cayenne, thinking I wasn't using enough, and we ended up practically burning our throats while eating them...they tasted good though, they tasted normal.
Tuesday was my 23rd Birthday...eech, I feel old! The day started off fairly warm, high 70's probably, but by the time we got out of French class at 4pm, it was freezing, cloudy and rainy...essentially, it went from summer to fall in a matter of hours. We went over to Cora to buy supplies for dinner, and after asking the meat-counter guy in very broken and I'm sure, horribly incorrect French, which cut of beef we should buy for Steak Frites (steak and fries) and buying a 5 kilo bag of potatoes (you can't buy any less at Cora, guess we'll be eating a lot of potatoes) we headed home. Oh, we also bought ingredients for homemade mayo (to dip the fries in...yum) and a bottle of Leffe Ruby, which is a new kind of Leffe beer, which Laura (or maybe David) introduced us to, that is made with cranberries...we think...have I mentioned before that the French really love their fruity beers?
So here I am with my delicious Steak Frites, sorry you can't see the steak, we weren't very good with the camera angles. After dinner, Michael convinced me that I must have some cake on my Birthday, even if I don't really like cake (with the exception of Chocolate Mayonnaise cake) so I had a piece of the Mirabelle cake which turned out to be very good and not too sweet, but the Mirabelles were starting to ferment, which made for an interesting dessert.
Wednesday was another boring day, Michael went to class, I went shopping, we made dinner (pasta...boring), and we watched the cult class, Pulp Fiction, which I had never seen before. For the record: Quentin Tarantino is a strange man who makes very strange movies.
And today...we got to walk to the store together, which is always nice (because I don't have to carry the groceries back...and the company is good), and since it has been such a blustery, fall-like day, we made chicken noodle soup. We watched a horrible movie, Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, which was horrible not because of gore, which is what I was expecting, but just horrible because....it was a horrible movie, poorly acted out, poorly written, hardly any plot to speak of. Essentially, it wasn't really worth watching, but at least I managed to finish up the market bag that I had started on the flight here which is pictured above laying on top of it's mate which was made 6 months ago. As you can see, the blue market bag has been well-used as I expect the pink will be. Alright, that's it for now. Sorry for the infinitely long post tonight, hope you didn't have anything better to do :-) Love you all!